Is Marrying Your Cousin Haram?


Married couple holding hands
Photo Courtesy: Kumon

People in many different regions of the world marry within families which includes marriages between first, second, third cousins.

It is currently considered taboo in western countries even though historically it was very common, however many regions across the word continue to practice cousin marriages and encourage it.

Marrying your cousin is not considered haram in Islam. Surah Al Nisa in the Quran states a list of marriages between family members that are prohibited and cousin marriages was not included in that list, which is therefore interpreted as being halal. Furthermore, prophet Muhammed (PBUH) married his cousin.

With that said, let’s look into what the Quran specifically says about cousin marriages in Islam and why people continue with the practice of cousin marriages.

Table of Contents:

1. Is Marrying Your Cousin Haram?
2. Can you Marry Your First Cousin In Islam?
3. Why Do Muslims Marry Their Cousins?

Is Marrying Your Cousin Haram?

Marrying your cousin is not considered haram according to the holy Quran, Sunnah, and scholarly consensus. Women whom a Muslim man can marry or who are forbidden are clearly defined in the Holy Quran.

And (do) not marry whom married your fathers of the women except what has passed before, indeed it was an immorality and hateful, and (an) evil way.

Forbidden to you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters,36 your father’s sisters and your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters and your sister’s daughters, your milk-mothers, your milk-sisters, the mothers of your wives, and the stepdaughters – who are your foster-children, born of your wives with whom you have consummated the marriage; but if you have not consummated the marriage with them, there will be no blame upon you (if you marry their daughters).

Also ˹forbidden are˺ married women—except ˹female˺ captives in your possession. This is Allah’s commandment to you. Lawful to you are all beyond these—as long as you seek them with your wealth in a legal marriage, not in fornication.

Surah Al Nisa

Furthermore, it is fully known that the Prophet (P.B.U.H) married off his beloved daughter Fatima (R.A) to Hazrat Ali (R.A), who was the cousin of Prophet (P.B.U.H).

Also, Prophet (P.B.U.H) married his first cousin Zaynab bint Jahsh (may Allah be pleased with her) as she was the daughter of Umaymah (parental aunt of the Prophet (P.B.U.H).

Based on this, marrying your cousin is considered lawful in Islam.

We couldn’t find any authentic Hadith that we can consider as Matan or Sanad by Sunnah prohibiting marrying your cousin. Nothing authentic has been said by Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) about cousin marriage (Source).

Islamic scholars do however argue over whether Islam encourages or discourages marriages between cousins.

Some Islamic scholars arguing that cousin marriages is not encouraged, it is simply permissible, because there is a risk of divorce and hence may become a cause of severing ties of kinship (source).

Can You Marry Your First Cousin in Islam?

First cousin marriage is completely lawful and fine according to the Sunnah and the Qur’an. There is scholarly consensus that it is allowed in Islam.

As we have mentioned in the verses of Surah Nisa above in which all categories of women are listed that a person cannot marry, and it does not mention the first cousin. It is clearly stated “Lawful to you are all besides those mentioned.”

Allah has disallowed a girl from marrying her:

  • Father
  • Grandfather
  • Brother
  • Nephew
  • Uncle
  • Son
  • Foster-Father
  • Step-father
  • step son
  • step sister
  • grandson
  • Son in law
  • Father in-law

Allah excludes cousins from the list above which in turn is understood as permissible.

Why Do Muslims Marry Their Cousins?

Muslims marry their cousins for the following reasons:

  • For cultural reasons
  • Political reasons
  • Preservation of wealth (Dowries are typically not demanded if the marriage is within the family)
  • Arranged Marriages typically leads to it (since the families already know each other)

People tend to confuse cousin marriages as being a predominately a muslim practice. This is not true though.

Many countries across the globe across many different religions continue to practice this form of marriage. In fact, there are many countries around the world that allow it.

More than 10% of world wide marriages are between first and second cousins (source).

Speaking of marriages, learn more about whether it is considered haram for a woman to not get married.

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